I Love Pennisetum purpureum ‘Tift 8’ aka Vertigo Fountain Grass

Sep 25, 2020 | Gardens

Name: Pennisetum purpureum ‘Tift 8’ aka Vertigo fountain grass

Type of Plant:  An annual grass in colder climates (hardy in Zone 8-11) that’s tall (4 feet or more) and showy.

Why I Love/Hate this plant: I love this grass because of the total drama it brings to the late summer and fall garden. Dark purple to almost black leaves and great texture…this annual makes a perfect plant to place in perennial gardens near peonies, oriental poppies and other early-summer plants that disappear later in the summer. It’s a wonderful background plant for fine-flowering things such as Nicotiana. Plant it with some time-release fertilizer in June and you’ll be singing its praises from August until hard frost.

A Word to the Wise: This is a tough plant to sell in the garden center, because what you see in the pot in June in no way resembles what the plant will become in a couple of months. It’s a leap of faith, for sure, but SO worth it.

Plant this grass in full sun, stand back and enjoy!

I plant Vertigo in the perennial garden where early in the summer I have many peony plants. Later I need some POP in this area and a dramatic background to the annuals in front, and Vertigo does that.

This purple annual grass is great behind Hakonachloa macra – the yellow Japanese forest grass.

This photo gives you a good idea of how tall this fountain grass grows in one season.

Plant Pennisetum purpureum ‘Tift 8’ behind finer plants such as Nicotiana.


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